Monday, 24 February 2020
Live from IMARC: Andrew Michelmore, CEO, MMG
Austmine Limited
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Live from IMARC: Andrew Michelmore, CEO, MMG

IMARC 2015 kicked off with a bang this morning, and one of the most interesting speakers so far this morning was Andrew Michelmore, CEO of MMG. Speaking in the opening plenary which held the theme “The Only Constant in Mining is Change”, an accurate title in the current market, Andrew focused on MMG’s big changes throughout his presentation.

However, Andrew opened with a nod to the biggest changes he’s seen throughout his career in the mining industry. Safety is the biggest shift he’s seen, with many of those changes coming about in the 1990s. Andrew stated that safety is the single most important measure of our performance as an industry, and aside from the obvious benefits of improved safety levels and reduced incidents, continuous improvement in this area translates to improved operational discipline. Safety is the number one value at MMG and Andrew commented on the importance of training, awareness and culture on achieving improved safety levels.

MMG have a big focus across their operations on community engagement, sustainability and environmental concerns. Social issues and resource scarcity is becoming more critical to the industry as a whole, in particular land access and water usage has increased in terms of being a concern to local communities and therefore has to be considered in more depth by miners.

Andrew moved on to discuss how MMG is currently setting themselves up for growth. They have 300-400 people here in Melbourne and have a focus on social development. MMG is a member of the International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM), and is the only Chinese owned company on the ICMM, which represents 23 companies, both large and small, delivering over 60% of the world’s production of minerals. The ICMM’s goal is to set standards globally covering a range of areas including human rights, reporting, risk management, safety, environmental and more. MMG hope through their participation to demonstrate you don't have to be a big company to commit to global standards. The organisations within the ICMM share technologies, ideas and learnings on community engagement.

MMG’s project of particular interest to many around the world at the moment is of course their Las Bambas project in Peru. A large copper project, it is now in the final stages of construction, employing over 18,000 construction workers. This will be a significant project, producing over 400,000 tonnes of copper per year, with a life expectancy of 20 years. This is particularly exciting in light of the fact they have only so far explored 10% of the tenement. The mine will have a direct local employment of 3000 (24% skilled), which is particularly important given how poor and remote the region is. MMG have built a new town, called Nueva Fuerambamba, where the workers and their families can live.

MMG’s other project that has of course been hitting the headlines for quite different reasons is their Century Mine in Northern Queensland. Century has been operating since 1999, proving 4% of the world’s zinc production since production commencement, but is now closing. They swept the bottom of the pit in August, and Andrew mentioned how last night he saw a photo of the last of the ore moving from the stockpile into the crusher. Century was a landmark mine in many ways, having the first native title agreement of its kind, with the Gulf Communities. It will also be the first major mine in Australia to shut, putting MMG very much in the spotlight with how they go through the closure and rehabilitation. Their tailings management and disposal will of course be a large part of the process, and Andrew mentioned the current plan is to pump up the tailings and put them back into the pit.

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